Binghamton University students and Broome County residents gathered at the East Gym on Sunday to satisfy their hunger for fundraising.
Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) held its 31st annual Hunger Walk, with an estimated 700 to 1000 volunteers attending to help the cause, according to CHOW director Michael Leahey.
Since 1976, CHOW, along with the University’s Center for Civil Engagement (CCE), has been providing free food to those in need in Broome County.
“It’s our best opportunity to be able to highlight the issue of hunger in the community and to be able to educate people about the issue of hunger,” Leahey said. “For every dollar we raise it ends up providing four meals in the community.”
Since 1982, CHOW, which is managed by the Broome County Council of Churches, invited Broome County residents and BU students to walk to raise awareness and funds for the less fortunate. CHOW donated over 700,000 free meals last year.
“We moved to campus a few years ago, and we have a lot of students’ support,” Leahey said. “With that move, Sodexo, they donated food. Everyone has really donated a lot of time, a lot of volunteers. We’re very lucky.”
Collaboration between CCE, community members and the University seems to be helping CHOW’s turnout. CHOW has 30 pantries and two farms. Broome Bounty, a division of CHOW, is the sole food recovery program in the county, collecting food from local suppliers.
Other fundraisers such as the Jim “Mudcat” Grant All-Star Golf Tournament and the Great New York State Chili Championship also aim to raise funds and awareness about hunger in the community. In 2012, CHOW reportedly served about two million pounds of food to those in need in Broome County through its soup kitchens and community meal programs.
“We do little things, we do big things. It involves a huge community, and I think every year we have more people that have never walked before,” said Carol Herz, a local resident of Binghamton and a CHOW volunteer for the past three years.